The hostage-taking at a remote Algerian gas plant was carried out by 30 militants from across the northern swath of Africa and two from Canada, authorities said. The militants, who wore military uniforms and knew the layout, included explosives experts who rigged it with bombs and a leader whose final order was to kill all the captives.
The operation also had help with inside knowledge — a former driver at the plant, Algeria’s prime minister said Monday.
The militants had said during the standoff that their band included people from Canada, and hostages who had escaped recalled hearing at least one of the militants speaking English with a North American accent.
The Algerian premier said the Canadians were of Arab descent.
Officials in Canada could not confirm that any of the attackers were from there.
“Up to five of the al Qaeda-linked Islamists who carried out the most spectacular and bloody hostage situation in recent years were employees of the gas plant, security sources have revealed.
One of those involved in the “inside job” was of French nationality, the sources told the Daily Telegraph, in what appears to be a blow to those in charge of safety at the highly strategic In Amenas plant, which accounts for 12 per cent of Algeria’s gas production.
The unnamed French accomplice is said to have changed sides once his comrades in arms had broken into the desert site in southeastern Algeria after attacking bus at a false checkpoint. He then took part in the kidnapping operation before being killed during the Algerian army assault on the site.
Some terrorists are reported to have known internal procedures at the plant as well as the room numbers of expatriates.